Dreaming of Critical Mass at Arcosanti Arizona


Wed’s School of Thought was a blast. We had 42 people attending. Much of the discussion focused on the idea of Critical Mass within an Arcology and we considered the various ways in which such a definition could be defined.

In particular I suggested that we might consider the idea that there are really three kinds of effects:

  1. Rural – provides important aspects to society in terms of open space and communion with nature
  2. Urban – enables the coming together of forces in society and civilization that enable innovation and evolution to improve quality of life as well as humn experiences.
  3. Suburban – Transition zone between urban and rural.

The idea is that there is no perfectly clear right or wrong. Rather the ideal is to minimize transport to enable the most frugal and effective use of resources.

Carried Away Film Shoot wraps up today. They are giving us a sneak peak of the footage they have filmed so far tonight.

Robert a friend of mine and a workshopper in progress took the second week of the 5 week workshop. He is doing it a week at a time over a peroid of months. He mentioned that he has published a book. Its called Postpotatolater: a Spudly way of Knowledge

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2 thoughts on “Dreaming of Critical Mass at Arcosanti Arizona

  1. I think that School of Thought was more focused on the idea of the “Urban Effect,” rather than “critical mass.” The term critical mass was discussed. It is definitely difficult for people that have not been through a Workshop or that have not spent much time at Arcosanti to discuss Paolo’s terms and I wonder how to aid in understanding. As an update, a definition of “critical mass” was handed to me shortly after Wednesday’s School of Thought. From a brochure that I estimate was produced maybe 2 decades ago about the Pierre Teilhard Cloister, it is written:

    CRITICAL MASS is a term used to define a stage of Arcosanti’s development where facilities exist to involve the constant on-site presence of 500 – 600 people. The critical mass structures begun during Arcosanti’s first decade will be “sub-urban” and structurally independent from the main town building, the arcology.

    I think we can agree that the number has changed, that any number is completely theoretical, and that the definition of the result of critical mass is also theoretical and very debatable. The term, however, I believe is consistently used by Paolo and Arcosanti leadership to define the minimum number of people in an arcology required to reach this “urban effect.” It is the concept that the urban effect cannot be effectively demonstrated in small numbers. (This is not a term I intend to defend or necessarily agree with; I only speak of it from an objective, factual perspective.)

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